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Published: 09-12-2019

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An Analysis of the Journey of Odysseus

The Odyssey presents its readers with several moments of grief – Penelope grieves more than the possible loss of her husband, Telemachus is riddled with the grief the suitors give him by trying to take over his missing father’s estate. Probably the most striking instance of grief is throughout Odysseus’ entrapment on Calypso’s island, Ortygia. Odysseus’ grievance and longing for house is a departure from the sturdy and brave attitude we count on to see from a ‘Trojan War Hero’. An critical query that we face although attempting to obtain a deeper understanding of the text is what ‘nostos’ or ‘returning home’ indicates to soldiers. Odysseus leaves home for the identical explanation most other soldiers do – to attain ‘kleos’, or ‘glory’. However, ‘nostos’ holds a dual which means for Odysseus – the common which means of homecoming, and the personal which means he attaches to it of ‘coming to’. By dramatizing the difference between Odysseus’ present circumstances in the course of his homeward voyage and his internal need to return home, grief opens up and elaborates the interior space of his character in a way that his heroic actions do not.

Till Book 5, we have only heard glorious war stories about Odysseus from King Nestor, King Menelaus and Helen as they pass on data about Odysseus to Telemachus. However, Odysseus is introduced to us in Book 5 in a really emasculated manner, crying on the beach on Calypso’s island. This underwhelming introduction is in stark contrast to the Odysseus that is portrayed in the stories and points to a modify in his character.

“But as for Fantastic Odysseus- Hermes could not find him within the cave.

Off he sat on a headland, weeping there as always,

Wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish,

During his seven years on Calypso’s island, Odysseus deals with getting no active challenge. He has no way of becoming a hero in Ortygia. He has no handle more than his entrapment since he has no way to escape. The word Calypso means ‘eclipse’ and Odysseus’ stay on her island is like an eclipse of the life he has recognized and what he has identified of himself till this point, as a warrior and a hero. He experiences an outpour of feelings like longing and frustration as he grieves for house while getting stuck on Ortygia. This represents his transition from the trajectory of a ‘War Hero’ to a man who accepts his grief, desperation and helplessness on the island.

Odysseus’ identity is redefined by means of his grieving period. This can be seen by comparing his old behavior with the difference in the way he handles scenarios that happen right after his encounter with the Underworld. Earlier, Odysseus’ behavior seems reckless, as he usually desires to discover the new lands he comes across throughout his journey back property. For instance, he wants to discover the land of the Cyclops, “I’ll go across with my personal ship and crew/ and probe the natives living more than there. What ‘are’ they- violent, savage, lawless/ or friendly to strangers, god-fearing men” [217/173-177], despite becoming uncertain of no matter whether it is safe or not. He tries to attain glory by making a name for himself in as numerous foreign lands as he comes across. This creates a tension among ‘kleos’ and ‘nostos’ since the readers query the urgency with which Odysseus desires to return home.

Odysseus tends to make an error in judgment when he reveals his name to the Cyclops, placing his guys and himself into danger and prolonging their suffering and arduous journey. As the ship sails away from the Cyclops’ island, Odysseus reveals his identity to the Cyclops against the wishes of his guys – “So they begged but they could not bring my fighting spirit round.”[227/556-557] It is his ‘hero’s heart’ that Odysseus need to understand to curb ahead of he can return to the civilized life at Ithaca. The quite qualities that served him in battle defeat him in peace.

However, following Odysseus’ encounter with the Underworld exactly where he meets the prophet Tiresias, when his ship is reaching the island of the Sun, he says to his males, “Here they warned, the worst disaster awaits us. Row straight past these shores – race our black ship on.” [279/299-300] Here we see Odysseus trying to restrain his thirst for adventure. He seems to have learnt his lesson from the grief he experiences after his encounter with the Cyclops, caused by Poseidon, who tends to make his ‘nostos’ much more hard due to storms on the journey back.

This restraint is also observed when he returns to Ithaca. He avoids the pompous error that got Agamemnon killed. He appears to have turn into more cautious. As an alternative of arriving all puffed up and victorious, he disguises himself as a beggar. When Eumaeus, the loyal swineherd, and Odysseus are going into the city of Ithaca, they come across the goatherd Melanthius who insults and taunts them and tries to injure Odysseus. “Odysseus was torn… must he wheel with his employees and beat the scoundrel senseless? – Or hoist him by the midriff, split his skull on the rocks? He steeled himself rather, his mind in full handle.”[362/256-260] This reaction is very distinct from the impulsive behavior we see earlier with the Cyclops. Subsequently, the Homeric epithet attached to Odysseus’ name also alterations from ‘cunning’ to ‘cool tactician’ soon after his return.

Hence, we see that Odysseus goes to war as a masculine prototype – brave, powerful and identified for his ‘cunning’. Nevertheless, he returns to Ithaca asleep on a bay exactly where the Phaeacian ship had dropped him. Odysseus’ arrival at Ithaca is understated. In Book 23, when Penelope ultimately sees Odysseus, she thinks, ‘One moment he seemed…Odysseus, to the life- the next, no, he was not the man she knew, a huddled mass of rags was all she saw”. [458/107-110] Even though this is possibly meant actually since Odysseus is dressed as a beggar, it can also be interpreted in a metaphorical sense because the changed Odysseus may be unrecognizable to her. He is longer the hero who has manage over his men and each situation he is in as he did for the duration of the war, but he is now vulnerable to the grief that has matured him, as he learns to curb his ‘warrior’s heart’.

The Odyssey ends without throwing light upon Odysseus’ second journey exactly where, primarily based on Tiresias’ guidance, he must leave home once again and make sacrifices to appease Poseidon. “But when you have killed those suitors in your halls – … go forth when far more, you must…” [177/176-178] Only once he does this, can he ultimately be at peace. However, the story ending prior to Odysseus sets off once more can recommend that he never ever does in fact obtain peace of mind.

Hence, the Odyssey beckons the readers to consider of the deeper, universal questions – Can soldiers ever really be themselves once again following experiencing war? Odysseus’ Hero’s Journey alterations him as it leads to his ‘coming to’. His image of a Trojan War Hero and his heroic actions portray him as a two-dimensional and unchanging character, repeatedly depicting him as ‘cunning Odysseus’. However, his moments of grief show character improvement as he matures in an emotional sense simply because he accepts his inability to manage every predicament he is in and his vulnerability to grief. As a result we see in the Odyssey that grief plays a more considerable role in Odysseus’ improvement than his heroic actions do.
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